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Research into the benefits of hallucinogens

By Mark Kleiman

Among the great tragedies of the culture wars that got started in the 1960s was the loss of the potential benefits of carefully-used hallucinogens: to stretch psychic horizons, to improve creative performance, to worship (or to attempt to encounter something worth worshipping), to help the dying confront the end, and to treat mental illness. Mechanisms, techniques, benefits, and risks all remain imperfectly understood, but there is overwhelming evidence that the materials can be safely used under appropriate supervision and that they sometimes deliver impressive rewards.

One of the remaining overhangs from the 1960s is the inability of most of the mass media to discuss the issue without reference to Tim Leary. The headline-writer for the New York Times op-ed page couldn’t resist assigning “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again” to John Tierney’s calm and well-reported piece on some of the latest advances in the field. The piece itself carefully abstains from the use of the term “psychedelic,” with all its paisley-and-Day-Glo associations.

Robert Jesse, the research entrepreneur behind the Hopkins psilocybin work reported in Tierney’s piece, doesn’t get mentioned. That reflects Bob’s operating style; the phrase “a passion for anonymity” might have been written with him in mind.

Tierney notes that federal funding for this line of research is scarce. One strong example comes from an issue Tierney doesn’t mention: the use of MDMA to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The preliminary results of that research are so encouraging, and the outcomes of conventional treatments for chronic PTSD so poor, that you might expect the VA hospital system to be eagerly looking into it. No doubt it would, if the therapy didn’t involve a popular recreational drug. As it is, the fear of headlines and hearings linking the VA to raves will guarantee that veterans with PTSD will continue to wait and suffer until privately-funded research has established safety and efficacy beyond doubt.

Read the original article at: Samefacts

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